Hunting, Fishing, Boat Fees to Increase

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The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Commission voted unanimously May 29 to increase most hunting and fishing license and boat registration fees. The cost of senior and youth license types will not increase.

Hunting and fishing license changes will take effect when new season licenses go on sale Aug 15. Boat fee increases will take effect Sep. 1, which means boat owners who get renewal notices with August expirations will see the higher fee schedule.

For the past two months, the department has sought public input about the fee proposal. TPWD had public meetings about fees in Abilene, Corpus Christi, Humble, Lubbock, San Antonio, Southlake and Tyler. A total of 24 people came to these meetings and almost all spoke in favor of the fee increase proposal. More comments came by e-mail, mail and phone, most of them against the increases. All told, 61 people commented about boat fees and 158 commented about hunting/fishing fees.

"Public comment about the fee proposal was surprisingly light in my view, and to me that affirms what I've said since we began this process-hunters, anglers and boaters get a good deal from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department," said Katharine Armstrong, TPWD commission chairman. "It's been seven years since our last fee increase, and we need this one to keep providing the basic services that our state needs and our customers expect. I think most people understand and support that."

Many of those who commented said they would support a fee increase if they could be assured TPWD would spend the money in ways that benefit boaters, hunters and anglers.

"I think it's important to emphasize that some very significant belt-tightening has taken place in the department," said Ernest Angelo, Jr. of Midland, TPWD Commission vice-chairman. "All the necessary fiscal responsibility has been exercised to make possible raising fees. And everything being proposed is within the bounds of inflation and the cost of what it takes to run TPWD. It's time to do it."

The boat registration fee increase is expected to generate an additional $3.6 million per year. Hunting and fishing fee increases are projected to bring in an additional $10.2 million per year. This money will allow the agency to keep providing basic services.

By law, TPWD can only spend hunting and fishing license revenue on fisheries and wildlife management and law enforcement. License funds cannot be diverted to state park operations or other state government needs.

The cost of a Super Combo license will increase this fall from $49 to $59. Resident hunting and resident fishing licenses will go from $19 to $23. Licenses for youth and seniors will not increase.

Also for the first time since 1996, fees for two-year boat registration will increase by amounts between $5 and $15 depending on the size and type of vessel.

Almost all the fee changes shown there as proposals will take effect, except for the duplicate Texas Conservation Passport fees, which will be addressed later.

The department put a slide show presentation on its Web site detailing how license money has been spent since the last increase in 1996.

A complete list of fee increases is on the >TPWD Web site. The public comment period has ended but the department is keeping this page up to show the fee changes.